Friday, 30 December 2011

Selfish And The City

This week, out of a mix of boredom and curiosity, I watched Sex and The City 2 (2010).

My sister was given the DVD last Christmas, not that she asked for it, and it has been lurking on her shelf ever since. Sex and The City has been about since 1998 and with my interest in female/feminist issues, my thoughts were that this would be interesting research into modern female icons.  The television series ran for 94 episodes, with 4 million viewers in the UK tuning in to watch the season finale in 2004.
So I watched the whole film. Within minutes I had grabbed a pen and paper and started making notes. This film gives women a bad name on so many levels it is insulting. I remember seeing the first film with my three female flat mates and I was the only one who was bored and disgusted by it.

I shall run through the issues that cropped up with SATC2; a few of them female stereotypes, others ridiculous plot lines:
1-Carrie walks out of a building with her sunglasses already on, takes them off, smiles and return them to her face. Dick.

2- You never randomly meet a friend in the street, let alone your three best friends.

3- Women do not squeal when they meet each other. This is ridiculous and pathetic behaviour.

4-Not all women have gay best friends.
5- We don’t all lead stupidly glamourous rich lifestyles that revolved around branded clothes.
6- Unlike SJP and gang, women CAN be funny. The jokes in the film that are made by the quartet stretch as far as someone having a camel toe and a poor Jewish based joke with Jude Law as the punch line. Thank god Kirsten Wigg is a rising star in film to show that women are funny. Bridesmaids put to shame the constant Adam Sandler and Hangover dribble
7- The jokes are so bad I am making a point of it by mentioning it twice. The start of the film revolves around a gay wedding, and the girls are firing out camp jokes faster than they can raise their botoxed eyebrows.
8- Someone needs to tell SJP crimping hair isn’t cool, let alone on a 40-something women.
9- Liza Minnelli? Singing Beyonce’s Single Ladies... WHY? Minnelli is very much a camp icon, so I can see why she would appear at a gay wedding. But the performance is so over the top, making her sing and dance to Beyonce with two dancers just made me cringe. She is like an aging family relative that is intent to embarrass you.

10- A mother of two exclaiming ‘ewwww’. Act your age.
11- If people don’t want children, they don’t have to. The world is over populated enough anyway. A discussion between two couples whilst at the wedding, one of which looked down on Carrie as they have decided not to have children. The moment was fairly tense as the women pulled a face. This is the 21st century, and many women are choosing careers over children. How could Carrie possibly afford it with all those  and dresses?
12- The women are obsessed with slowing down aging. Sex-obsessed Samantha reels off products and pills that help her try to hold onto her youth. We all know you are in your 50’s, stop fighting it. Stop pressuring women to feel like they need to spend silly amounts of money to attempt to look as perfect as you do. What normal women fail to realise, is that the make-up artists on films know lots of tricks to hide unwanted wrinkles and blemishes and really make the stars shine.
13- No film, under any circumstances, requires a bra-less women running towards the camera.

14- Hiring a nanny when living in New York shows wealth. The film shows a mother, in this case Charlotte, doing nothing whilst her hired nanny works on raising her children shows poor mothering. You never see Charlotte working or too busy to raise her own children. To make things worse, motherhood and children are dismissed in the film by Samantha as she doesn’t want them having breakfast with the quartet. Why is it acceptable to show such a negative idea about motherhood and show no real interaction with Charlotte and her children. The only interactions you see between Charlotte and her offspring, show the children in a a very negative way - one child not being able to sleep and screaming her head off whilst the other scene shows the older child putting red hand prints on Charlottes favourite vintage skirt. This concludes with Charlotte crying in a cupboard; Man the shit up woman. No one wears their favourite outfits whilst in the kitchen! This wouldn’t have happened if she was a better mother and gave them some of her attention. And if this woman has the money for a nanny, she has the money for dry cleaning or at least a new skirt.
 To be fair, there is some positive light on the relationship between a mother and child. Lawyer Miranda quits her depressing job to spend time with her family and makes it to see her child win a first prize at school. A small victory for motherhood.

15- SJP is a selfish bitch. She is ungrateful to her husband for a thoughtful gift. She whines and moans about her perfectly normal relationship. She is a complete cow to her husband and I am not surprised to tried to leave her for a couple of days a week.
16- This film totally glamourizes the rich lifestyle; the ability to lunch with your friends, decorate your apartment whilst also having another one lying empty and unused. This adds to magazines and TV shows that expect you to be able to afford the best of everything, to make you feel like you should always look your best. Brand labels that are featured in the film merely show off where the ladies stand in the money hierarchy. Never does the film address the issue of whether they can afford these luxuries of second homes in New York or the price of their outfits.


17- How many dress changes does a woman need? Carrie changed outfit getting on and off a plane! These women only seem to care about themselves and what they are wearing! I change my clothes less in a year than those women did in 148 minutes!
I could rant on, but I feel that this is enough to safely say that Sex and the City represents the smallest minority of women, glamourizing a lifestyle of no worries about money. These women show barely any love for their partners or children, you see Carrie and Miranda briefly working before meeting up for lunch with the girls. No one lives this lifestyle. The money is run on money and unless you are Tamara Ecclestone, us real women have to work hard for our lifestyles, to have the chance to even pay off our debts and mortgages.

Maybe I am wrong and Sex and the City is all about escapism for the real everyday woman and is fun. Or maybe I am right, along with all the film critics and it just mocks the real issues-raising children, paying bills, working to make ends meet..etc- women face.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Bodies

This month I have picked up a few books to read, including Bodies by Susie Orbach. I fascinating read about the pyschology behind the body and how we percieve ourselves, the mother and baby relationship and the effects of dieting.

The most influential chapter for myself, Bodies Real and Not So Real, talks about the effects of dieting on the body, obesity and artist Orlan.

'So emphatically is this the case that girls growing up today who that that constant dieting and being frightened of food are natural states. They’ve seen their mothers diet and they have been initiated into that what of approaching food. Thinking one is doing a good thing for oneself, one goes on a diet. '
Bodies, Susie Orbach, pg 96.
I highly recommend this chapter as a read to anyone in this modern era of manic body self-conscious. We are increasingly forced to think about our bodies and the status it presents to others. From the survey that I sent out in a previous blog , I found that there was a high number of self-conscious young people, thinking about dieting on a regular basis. I find it shocking that we bring up the next generation that is pushed by the media and health products and our vanity to fit in and show ourselves off to those around us.

'The numerous industries – diet, food, cosmetic surgery, pharmaceutical and media- that represent bodies as being about performance, fabrication and display make us think that our bodies are sites for (re)construction and improvement. Collectively, they leave us with a sense that our bodies capacities are limited only by our purse and determination. '
Bodies, Susie Orbach, pg 104

Orbach mentions French artist Orbach, who has been working since the 1970's and most explicityly in the early 1990's using her own body as a canvas. Whilst studying graphics, I was very aware of Stefan Sagmeister, highly regarded graphic designer, who also used his own body as a canvas. With the help of an assistant, Sagmeister carved into his body to create the result below as a poster format.

 The difference between these two artists was the message. Sagmeister wanted to visualise the pain that most of the designers have to go through while working on a project, whereas Orlan was commenting of society and the pain of cosmetic surgery. Orlan subjected herself to cosmetic surgery, to show the horrors 'with the impossibility of having a body that one can find acceptable.' Orbach, pg110. The five minute video is hard to watch, I squirmed quite a bit. Surgery is nothing I would consider unless for medical purposes, and the video highlights what women are encourage to do to their own bodies.

The increase of men and women glorifying the use of surgery is increasing, with more people parading wrinkle-free, botox filled faces.The recent news of french breast implant producer PIP having possible having health risks shows that vanity and cosmetic surgery comes at a high risk.

Links
 Bodies by Susie Orbach on Amazon
Orlan online
Stefan Sagmeister online
PIP Breast Implants on the BBC

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Ladies in the East End

The representation of women in television and film has changed somewhat over the last 50 years, developing strong female leads such as Sigorney Weaver in Alien, the romantic lead of Amelie and the psychotic Natalie Portman in Black Swan. Brilliantly strong characters that fight the traditional and aging housewife image, who capture the screen for their portrayals of women fighting through life and what is thrown at them.

Despite these characters, there are films and shows that just don't justify the representation of women,. tar Wars for example only has one female lead character out of a cast of many men. Even now, there are very few female directors too, accounting for 8% of the top 250 grossing films of all time.

However, I am disgressing slightly, what I really wanted to make a point of was an article about the representation of women in the Christmas day Eastenders episode. Lisa Northover, reported as Bournemouths most followed individual on Twitter, has written an article about the representation of women in the ..ahem.. festive episode, where you see the constant degrading and belittling of women against the dominating male characters. What century are we in? This is the 21st when I last checked, and the world is full of strong headed women living and fighting for themselves. Read the article here, which covers various roles in the show including that of domestic violence and motherhood.

Merry Christmas from Albert Square

I am not a follower of Eastenders but I know that they frequently use domestic violence as a key storyline, most significantly Mo Slater who murdered her violent husband with an iron a fair few festive seasons ago. In my experience of Christmas, it is never like the dreary and dramatic soap. I think we all can appreciate the producers raising awareness of the issues of domestic violence among other key issues, however they fail to raise it's significance for the rest of the year. Glancing at the BBCs Eastenders website, they slightly fail to really campaign about the issues raised. There is only a small box at the bottom that links to a long list of groups and charities that support causes. The BBC need to make this a key feature on their website so it is easily accessable to all, whether to support or inform viewers and not made to be such an insignificant feature.


LinksWomen and Film by the BFI
Lisa Northover on Twitter
Women in Film Stats from Women Make Movies
Eastenders at the BBC

Monday, 26 December 2011

Childs Play

If you are a frequent blog reader, you might remember last months post about Desperate Scousewives. I ranted about the delights of the new breed of 'reality' television in the form of cameras following of group of tan glowing and self centred people which is entirely set up by the producers to bring more interesting[debable] storylines.

Today, I came across the delights of a fellow ranter Charlie Skeoch. I have followed Charlie on twitter for a while, as a blogger of film reviews [check out her brilliant War Horse review] but this week she has posted about reality show following The Only Way is Essex... erh 'star'.... Amy Childs. A wonderfully witty review of her recent program where cameras followed her around whilst she lived her inspiring life-style. A very witty blogger. 
Check it out here.

Links
Must It Be All About Amy By Charlie Skeoch
Charlie Skeoch on Twitter

Saturday, 24 December 2011

May Contain Vaginas

At the moment I am reading Bodies by Susie Orbach, discussing many body issues from babies bonding with their mother to the psychology of wanting to look a certain way. It has been an interesting read, incluing a studying into a man who wanted to become an amputee and have his legs surgically removed. The relationship between our mind and body seems to be so distant in an age where we are bombarded with photoshopped images of the perfect body and constant advertising of products and processes that we need to age gracefully and to fit into society.

 Embroidered Vagina

After taking part in the Embroidered Campaign to support Female Genitalia Mutilation [blog] I kept meaning to look up an artist that I remembered seeing The Perfect Vagina shown on Channel 4 in August 2008. Jamie McCartney, who runs Brighton Body Casting, was working on a 5 year project taking plaster casts of women's vaginas.This is 'art with a social conscience', to show that this is naturally what women look like!

 Panel 1 with 40 vagina casts.

'400 casts arranged in this manner is in no way pornographic, as it might have been if photographs had been used.' Jamie McCartney


The First Official Photo Shoot

"Why did I do it and what's it all about?" I hear you ask. Well, it became clear to me whilst working on a not dissimilar piece for a sex museum that many women have anxiety about their genital appearance. It appalled me that our society has created yet one more way to make women feel bad about themselves. I decided that I was uniquely placed to do something about it." - Jamie McCartney on BrightonBodycasting.com


The project is delicate as it is loud. It strikes as a project to get participants to understand themselves more by comparing their vaginas with other women and realize that we are all different. It also makes suggestion to the popular rise in the 'designer vagina' as well as the fore mentioned female genitalia mutilation.

If you are at all self conscious about your body,especially vagina, watch this complete clip from The Perfect Vagina shown on Channel 4 in 2008.

McCartney took women as young as 18 to women in their 70's, as well as casting female to male and male to female transsexuals. It is a great project, that will unfortunately offend the light-hearted and closed minded people, but inspire women who suffer with body anxieties. Women need to be more open with each other about their anxieties and support each other to love themselves without injecting botox, implanting silicon or insisting on photoshopping photographs.


LINKS
@GreatWallVagina on Twitter

Ho Ho Ho

Merry Christmas!
Many thanks to those who have supported me with my work with ideas, contributions and by simply reading this blog. Please keep looking back, as there will be lots to come in the new year, and spread word to all!

And here is some Christmas joy for you, from the guys @theartofdancing





Friday, 9 December 2011

Advertising Bodies

Earlier this week,I read an interesting article talking about the representation of the female body in advertising. The government are currently during up a voluntary pledge for brands to conquor body confidence, especially for young women. This pledge comes at a time when airbrushing is acceptable in advertisement, including film posters such as the American poster version of King Arthur, where Knightly recieved a free digital boob-job.
Left: UK poster, Right: American Version.

The pledge comes with backing from MP Jo Swinson, who complained again L'Oréal's posters which featured actress Julia Roberts who looked overly airbrushed. 'Swinson complained that images of both celebrities had been digitally manipulated and were "not representative of the results the product could achieve"." Guardian, 27th July 2011. Good for Swinson, I mean look at the image. It glows with computer manipulation.


 
The Advertising Standards Agency[ASA] refused the advert, mainly down to L'Oréal not being able to provide the original pre-production images. When a company does not want to release pictures to proove their innocence, it reaks of guilt.

Also this week, H&M have been critisized for thier new digitilized models on their sites. The clothes are shot on mannequins which are then digitally manipulated to look more human. They have also used another technique where 'shot real models for the campaign, but only to superimpose their heads on the standard body form,' Msmagazine.com. How sodding ridiculous. That is a new step bridging a gap between the customer and the brands images that they use on their site. It also mocks models for what they do, as well as also pressuring women to look a certain way. The digital figures are dainty, nowhere near the natural average of 14/16. A company spokesperson 'insists that they only settled on a single “default” body because they wanted a standard base on which to display the clothing.' AT LEAST USE SOMEONE WE CAN RELATE TO. They might have well as used a blow up doll or AN ACTUAL MANNEQUIN! If a company uses a model, natural figure or even celebrity, at least they would be endorsing themselves as a company who can relate to womens bodies and their needs.



 All the photos I have seen so far,including this one above,entirely digitilized, looks horrifically unnatural and uncomfortable. It makes me think the poor woman has a crooked limbs thanks to the strange shadowing on her left arm.

Women have enough on their plate dealing with children, work, men[big children] amongst everything else to have to worry about looking perfect for everyone else. The fact that there are so many beauty adverts thrusted in magazines so that women are peer pressured to look unnaturally younger. And do these products actually work? Of course they do... if you eat well,excersize regulary, do not smoke, do not drink alcohol and live a stress free life with the perfect sleeping patterns. And that is given that you have a natural perfect skin condition anyway. These products are bull, and women are a fool for buying them. You are better off mixing your own concoction of of oats, honey and natural yogurt or whatever people suggest on blogs and messageboards. Those, at least, are natural products and you know what they are. No one really knows what those long worded ingredients are that go into skin creams.

What L'Oréal and H&M have failed to do is to relate to their audience. All we want, like we do from men, is honesty, and for them to actually understand what we want. Perhaps a cream that helps us age slightly more gracefully but show us an un-airbrushed Julia Roberts, or even show us the clothes how they look on a petite, but real human being. Don't give us your bullshit. We are in the 21st Century, women can think for themselves and we think this is insane.


Links
Government Targets Beauty Brands via Marketing Magazine.co.uk
H&M New Models Via Ms.blog.com
Banning L'oreal Via Guardian
MP Jo Swinson On Twitter

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Nineteen Years

Yesterday whilst at the cinema, I saw this advert which I thought was brilliant. I am not a smoker, but it scared the bejesus out of me and I certainly never plan to start smoking. The black and white advert, directed by Steve Hudson, shows a young woman smoking, inhaling and exhaling slowly. As she exhales on each puff, the woman slowly ages more, as smoking reduced the elasticity in your skin resulting in increased wrinkles. A very effective piece.

Links
Anti Smoking on Vimeo

Monday, 5 December 2011

How to Be a Woman

'You know, when it comes to sex, you really do have to remember men are blessedly forgiving creatures. They don't care what kind of knickers you're wearing. By the time you've taken your skirt off, you could be wearing a Gregg's paper bag with leg holes torn in to it, and it wouldn't put them off. THERE ARE MEN OUT THERE HAVING SEX WITH BICYCLES. Men don't remotely care if you're wearing sexy pants or not.'

I couldn't help but chuckle at these words. Caitlin Moran has expressed in words something that I have believed, and probably many others, for a long time.

Whilst in London at Fem11, a few people I got chatting to recommended How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. I will admit now, I had never heard of it before, despite glowing reviews from Jonathan Ross, Nigella Lawson and Lauren Laverne. However, 100 pages in, and it has had amused me all evening. The book is far from patronizing and stuck up, which I always fear from feminists. However this is a mix of memoirs and rants; tales of periods, pants and muffs [so far..].

Other key quotes from the book which I think strike very amusing points.

'So here is the quick way of working out if you're a feminist. Put your hand in your pants.
a) Do you have a vagina? and
b) Do you want to be in charge of it?
If you said 'yes' to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist.'

'Why on earth have I, because I'm a woman, got to be nice to everyone? And why have women - on top of everything else- got to be particularly careful to be 'lovely' and 'supportive' to each other at all times?'

On the subject of underwear that we love wearing: 'Oh, if only the world knew how amazing we look under all these clothes.' Because I know personally that I feel so much better about myself wearing beautiful and comfortable under wear. After a recent discussion with a male friend, I find the idea of men buying me underwear bizarre and unnecessary. For one, I know what I like, and I am like hell to please. Secondly, I am wearing underwear to make myself feel good, not to look good for anyone else.

 A highly recommended read to all men and women.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The State or Quality of Being Real.

Reality televisions first made an appearance on our screens in 1999/2000 with shows like Big Brother and Survivor. After a decade of various adaptions in this genre, we have now tipped ourselves into making new genres of shows.
 Monday night saw the start of yet another city showing off their most glamorous citizens - Desperate Scousewives. Yes, seriously, that IS what it called.


There was The Only Way Is Essex, Made in Chelsea and Geordie Shore, now Channel 4 has treated us with Desperate Scousewives following a bunch of nobodies girls who are.. I have no idea what they do... One gets a job in a beauty parlour for drawing on the worst eyebrows ever['The Scouse Brow' as she calls it]. Another is a model, who you later find out has a kid and is trying to support her daughter... Why doesn't she get a better job to support or daughter and show her what a real hard working mother is. The model [I think her name is Amanda], you see in a mass of rollers walking the street with some blonde [Claire?] and later sat in pink lingerie, breasts out, still in rollers, doing buggar all. I'm sure that is really setting a brilliant example for her kid, not to mention the young audience who might be watching.
Who really cares about these people? The conversations are so forced. The people are idiots and cannot think logically or understand the consequences of their actions ie. the girl who is  one guys booty call yet she is hung up on him-really? I also saw more cleavage in 45minutes that I have all year, not to mention fake tan, nails and hair extensions. How is this watchable?These people are desperate for two things- attention and money.


Monday morning, I caught a bit of BBC Breakfast where TV critic from the Sunday Mirror, Kevin O'Sullivan, discussed Desperate Scousewives and the genre that it is supporting.
 They are very strange shows. They are called structured reality which is code for it's all fake. So its not reality, and its all set up by the producers. They take this line that are peoples lives and turn it into a soap opera. It is all rather deceptive. It certainly isn't more glamorous than TOWIE.People watch it are just mesmerized by their oddness. Its very deceptive to the young audience.

What is reality TV? How can you compare X-Factor to Desperate Scousewives or Big Brother. These girls are not wives, and they certainly did not seem desperate to become wives.We need to drop the term 'reality'. Kids think Mark Wright is a superstar as he is on tv. It is a strange point we have arrived at. This genre is ultimately deceptive.

Anjula Mutand, psychologist on the first Big Brother series, talked about the same subject with Kevin and her opinions was:
We are addicted to it. Young people look up to them as role models and see it as a fast track to fame. You appear on the show and you suddenly have a career. People on the shows have to pretend to know each other well when they barely know each other at all. It is unscripted drama.

Producers take these relationships and force situations upon them- It is all set up. There is no reality but these are people in a city, but that is as far as it goes. How people can spend their lives watching these shows on a weekly basis is really beyond me. How dull and exciting can your own lives be that you have to watch other people pretending to have real relationships with others. It's not acting, and yet its not reality. As Kevin O Sullivan said, its mockumentary and it's mocking those who waste hours watching pathetic excuse for entertainment.

Alternatively on Channel 4, there is My Transsexual Summer. Seven people from around the UK who have struggled and coped with changing gender. The fourth and final episode was shown last night, and it was more in touch with reality than TOWIE or Desperate Scousewives will ever be.
 
Fox, Sarah, Drew, Lewis, Donna, Max and Karen. These seven trans-genered people met up over summer in a large house to help each other with their journey in life. Karen, 52, is near the end of change, having spent decades fighting society and trying to accept who she actually is, after also walking away from a wife and child in the mid-80's. Sarah however had been living as a women for barely a few weeks and her family weren't even aware of her new lifestyle.

These are real people. Over the last four weeks you understand the pressures of trying to fit in on a daily basis. Drew, god bless her, has struggled for years to get a job due to her being transgender. She barely had a social life. With help from Donna, the most confident and vibrant of the bunch who adores being transgender, Drew and Sarah found confidence over the weeks as well as great support from the others.

As well as showing how these down to earth people deal with prejudice, it also shows the decisions they face being transgender in how to feel most comfortable with themselves. Karen goes through surgery to change her male genitals into a vagina, which will complete her transition to being the woman she has always wanted to be. There is also talk from a man who had surgery to change from being a woman to having a penis- amazing and so interesting. Since then, I sadly believe this man as been sacked from his job - what a sad world we live in.
 Fox and Lewis have struggled with their chests, both wanting surgery to remove their breasts to feel at ease as a man. What was interesting was the relationship that Lewis had with his father. His father was still struggling with his child's decision to live as a man, even after a few years and a great face of stubble. Heartbreakingly, he even referred to his son as 'her' still.

This show not only gives sight into the prejudice and daily rituals of this life changing choice, but it gives support to those who are still unable to talk about their issues. No longer is transgender a taboo subject, and it shouldn't be. If we are not confortable with our lives, we make change to make ourselves happy and these are truly lovely and real people with real struggles in life.

Forget fake tan, hair extensions and pathetic gossip. We need to focus on loving ourselves and supporting everyone around us for who we really are.

Links
My Transsexual Summer Article at Guardian
Fox [MTS] on Youtube Channel
Fox Art Work
Lewis* [MTS] on Youtube Channel
All seven participants from My Trans Summer can be found on Twitter.

*I love this guy!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Dear More!

This week, I decided after much ranting on about More! magazine, see previous blog post, I would email them direct about a few issues that I have with the magazine[I really should research other magazines I know]. After attempting to email the editor yesterday, which ended up being an invalid email address,I emailed all email addresses possible,8, on their contact page, so at least someone would recieve my email. And within a few hours this afternoon I got a response.
The two questions I asked were:

Q1: Would More! ever consider doing a whole magazine featuring models of the natural average size [14/16]? [excluding adverts]
Q2: Is More! unable to accept the beauty of a natural body without glamourising it with sex? Would you be willing to a feature on plus-size models without the mention of men, and focus on the struggles of dieting, accepting your body? Women struggle with body anxieties on a daily basis, often struggling for years to find confidence with their bodies.

The email had obviously been passed onto someone relevant, Louise IT Purchasing, and this is what she had to say:

'Thanks for your email. In response, we'd like to say firstly that on our fashion pages, we use professional models from national agencies, as do all other media. Secondly, we feature real girls with real bodies as part of our remit, and have always had a positive response from people when we do so. Every case study we feature has volunteered to take part and is well aware of the context of the feature. Finally, more! has been around for 25 years and has always been about men, sex and relationships. I hope this answers your questions.'

A short answer and covers what I asked but they obviously have passed the buck onto the fashion agencies regarding the models. So is it the modeling agencies that are making us self concious as they fail to hire or encourage the use of bigger models? In a previous blog post, I spoke about Mark Fast and his use of size 14 models on the cat walk, and maybe it is the push of using models on the cat walk that will see the rise of regular models in our magazines? Who do we blame? Where does the problem start?
 Why can't these companies provide a choice of different sized models or why don't the magazines only enforce the use of average sized models? Is it ovbiously too much a risk for a magazine to break the trend, like Mark Fast did, and set a good example.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Body Image Survey

To anyone and everyone!

I would be much obliged if you could help me with a little research. I am currently reseraching issues that females deal with in todays society[if you have not looked through this blog], and body image is one that we all face,male or female, on a daily basis. We are all effected by the pressures to be thin and love our curves.

I would appreciate your help to fill in a survery about body image, and as some questions are mandatory, please feel free to elaborate your answers as much or little as you are comfortable with sharing. All of the information given will be anonymous and will not be shared without consent.

Please click the link to take part in a survey, and I would appreciate any links on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, emails etc etc, but please link back to this blog post so others can look through the work I have been doing.

Thank you everyone.

Herring's Objectification

Through Twitter, I found that Richard Herring was doing a Radio4 program about Page 3 and the objectification and sexualisation of women it encourages,as well as talking about breasts. A lot... His show, he claims at the start of one is 'The show where I [Herring] take a object that has become a hot potato,a beef, a bone of contention,and a laughing stock and try to mix it up to become a delicious mixable compatible soup.'

I haven't listened to the show before, but have been increasing my intake of Radio 4 shows recently because they are so interesting and so varied in topics and issues raised. It was through Radio4 I learnt about various other artists including Sarah Greaves. However, I am aware Herring is from a comedy background[check out a review at Huffington Post here] and I wanted to hear a discussion led by a man and not a feminist either.



So The Sun has been parading breasts on Page3 for 41 years now, and is something that we accept in our society and we are all well aware of it's existence, whether we buy the paper or not. We all joke about the models little comment box responding to current affairs, that a women who degrades herself to pose naked wouldn't understand the politics going on around her. When asking the public their views on Page3, and there were some very interesting and fairly varied response:
A young women - It's up to the model if that is what she wants to do, as long as they are happy and it doesn't hurt anyone.
An older lady - I don't want to see breasts paraded in newspapers, they need to cover up.
A young man - It's part of the heritage of this country and very proud to have it.
Another young man- Do women want to be goggled at? Aren't women more important than that?
 


The responses are very much most points of view that come with the debate over Page3. Do we still need it in our society? What impact does it have on everyone? Surely even if we take it away, people will still find similar imagery in alternative publications anyway such as Nuts and Zoo magazines. The removal from Page3 however wont change the objectification that it imposes on women as well as the sexualisation.
 
Key points about the issue from the rather amusing and lighthearted show came from Doctor Viren Swami from the University of Westminster, author of The Psychology of Physical Attraction, who answered Herrings question: If men aren't bothered by breasts, why are editors of newspapers still putting them on Page 3?
'The main explanation, from a sociological point of view is to emphasis what is acceptable in terms of male and female behaviour. Putting a women in the paper is acceptable for her to be an object to be viewed. It is acceptable in terms for what a man to do;for a man to observe a woman appearing naked in The Sun is acceptable. Of the objectification the woman in The Sun, it is a symptom of the acceptance of the objectification of women more generally and an attempt to focus women's behaviour and their minds on superficial aspects of their identity other than their real competences.'


The show also featured Zoo and Nuts model Lucy Pinder who said she was first spotted on a beach and was approached by a man to do some photos, despite the fact she was going to go to study English Literature a month later at university. This never happened and has appeared in mens magazines ever since.
 On the subject of whether she feels she has been exploited through her work, she said 
'Personally not. Its like outsiders looking in there are a lot of preconceeded ideas about how the girls are treated and I think when I started doing page 3 and was asked to describe a glamour model, I would have said blonde, not very bright, fake boobs. But then I met some the girls and thought well actually this is quite fun and we get paid quite well, we could be doing a lot worse. I think there are a lot of things that are quite kosher that the girls who are trying to get in to the glamour industry, I think they are quite likely to get taken advantage of.'


Asked about how young girls might perceive glamour models and if it might give them ideas on what it mean to be a women. Pinder replied, 'I think it is kind of a weird idea that it was thought up. Maybe its a bit dated and I kinda see all of those arguments I don't think I ever saw a picture of a Page 3 girl but I don't think I would have been traumatized by seeing a pair of breasts.' I dont think that Lucy Pinder quite realised what the question was about. It was the effect of these images on children and if these images will effect how they feel about their body as well as their aspirations.

In the Guardian this morning, it is reported that ASA [Advertising Standards Agency] have received numerous complaints about a Lynx advery that features Lucy Pinder due to a range of offences including objectifying women. The advert had 10 complaints, whilst another poster in which she didn't feature received 113 complaints. Well done Lynx again for using women and sex to try and sell their product. [Guardian article]


The newly banned advert that objectifies women.

In 2005 a survey suggested that Abi Titmus was a popular role model for girls ages 15-19 and that more young girls were aspiring to be 'famous', WAGs or glamour models. What the hell has Abi Titmus done that is so inspiring and worth while? Before she became a bit presenter on This Morning, she was a nurse. However due to her a fling with John Leslie whilst he was accused of sexual wrongdoing, was filmed having sex with a boyfriend that became public and then appeared in various mens magazines without clothes, she found it very difficult to return to her trained profession. That is just sad and uninspiring. She became a target by the media and was dragged down by it completely as well as getting caught up in a 'celebrity' lifestyle meeting famous people and wanting to be on TV, despite her lack of talent.
The program is available to listen to on the BBC iPlayer in the UK only until Tuesday November 29th 2011. Click the image above to listen to the show.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Body Relationships

Whilst also scanning the paper today, I found it quite fitting that after blogging about More! magazines lack of encouraging body image, that the Daily Mail have published an article on couples telling the trust about their partners body.



 The article featured in today's Femail section of the Daily Mail, has images of 5 couples posing naked together. Each couple tell their thoughts on their partners body, and it is so enlightening to read thoughts that these ladies, although a couple of decades older than myself, are content with their own bodies. Bodies that have been through weight gain and loss through anxieties and pregnancies, but are very much adored, especially their bums, by their loving men.

This should really be encouraged for young girls to realize that bodies change constantly and no matter what, it is the person that is loved more than the body[but a pert bottom helps].


Read the article here.

Confessions of an Online Porn Junkie

I was scanning through the Daily Mail this afternoon and came across a wonderful piece from a gentleman who has been effected by his obsessive use of porn sites. Since listening to men form Anti-Porn Men Project, I thought this was rather fitting seeing as he has ruined many relationships because of this addiction.
'I seem to have crossed a line without realising it, and I’d have to admit that those experts who talk about porn having a ‘desensitising’ effect — that, over time, regular users of porn require stronger and stronger images — may have a point.'

Read the rest of the article at the Daily Mail. 

LINKS
Anti-Porn Men Project
Anti-Porn Men on Twitter


Blokes Have Followed Me on the Train to Tell Me I'm Beautiful

Whilst having a flick through my sisters collection of More! magazines, I was astonished to see something refreshing and rare. Use of a plus-size model - Hurrah!

After blogging this week about visiting a talk at Fem11 about ditching dieting and loving your body as it is, it was wonderful to see an article about three women who have 'incredible' bodies and men love it. There was Maxine the body builder, ReeRee Rockette with lots of tattoos and Emma Dunn, a plus-size model. For a magazine that normally consists of articles dictating how you should run a relationship, how to dress and which fake tan will give the best coverage, it was nice to see them promote something normal that real women can actually relate to. An article that actually promotes being individual and to love yourself for who you are, even though the interviews seemed to be very much orientated about what men think of them and sexualizing themselves.



 I read Emma's small piece and it was great to read. Key quotes that need to be reinforced:

'Even now, people make bitchy comments, but I don't let me get to me - I love my size-32 body'

'..learning to be body confident has had a huge effect on my life.'

'I eat healthily and I have no medical problems, so as long as I'm in good shape, I have no reason to worry about my size'


Maxine's[body builder] piece was interesting to read from the start, stating that 'At 5ft 6 and a size 6, weighing just 7st, I hated how skinny I was.' She goes on to say how much she loves her muscles and that she feels 'girlie and glamorous' and the confidence it gave her with her partner. 



I was unable to actually find this article on their website, and had to scan my copy in. It would be nice to see the featured articles online, rather than trailing through 'Lipstick of the day', 'Fancy some free tanning tips' and 'beating the winter hair blues'.. These are actual blog posts in their site. The site actually doesn't have a 'stories' section, only: Beauty, Fashion, Men&Sex, Advice, Blogs and Win..I think that is a pretty low quality website in terms of content for a popular women's magazine. No real stories are uploaded online.. 

Looking back at the front cover of the magazine, the girls were pictured in their underwear in the bottom corner with the caption 'Men can't resist our bodies'. It would have been less objectifying and more encouraging to other women if it had read something more like 'why we love our bodies and who we are'. The magazine needs to promote confident self image more rather than the sexualization of yourself and objectifying yourself for men.




Looking through a couple of editions of the magazine, it was clear that although they have featured a plus-size model in their magazine, they still use slim models for their fashion features. Even in fashion articles to show what suits each frame shape, they use slim models and not embracing the fact that the majority of their readers will not be a size 8/10. Magazines are missing out on really identifying on a personal level with their readers and merely throwing what they think they want to see.


Well done for trying More! magazine; silver star for attempted efforts. Maybe you ought to check out what Gok Wan has been doing these last few years.


The article in question is from issue dated 14th November 2011.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Object!

This is another Fem11 inspired blog, inspired by the group Object, who challenge sex object culture. They spoke in the afternoon about the issues they have campaigned against, as well as their newest protest they are taking to government.

The sexualisation of women can be seen throughout our culture from Porn magazines, lap dancing clubs to the ever growing brand Playboy. Object have protested about all of these issues, tackling the government on laws to change the representation of women in the media as well as the laws on prostitution to help protect the women involved. The representation of women in the media can be unfair, and lead people astray to how they think they can treat women.

Anna on the cover of Observer, August 2010. 
Image from Object.org.uk


Porn magazines, including Nuts and Zoo, exploit women from the front cover to the last page, with reality tv stars posing in underwear and even features with readers girlfriends sending in photos. These magazines can impose ideas that women who flaunt their bodies, rarely larger than a size 12, are easy and fun because of the way they have been photographed. It has been suggested through research that a man who increases his intake of porn, can change his perception and social skills around women because of the way they have been misrepresented.

This is how Object took action against these magazines which are freely displayed in supermarkets and leading newsagents. They aimed their protest at a branch of Tescos, who banned people from entering stores wearing Pyjamas in fear it would offend people.


This video is Anna Van Heeswijk, key activist and leader at Object speaking on BBC News about the objectification of women in certain magazines. This talk also features a former lads mag FHM editor making a bit of a fool of himself.

I think what Anna is campaigning about is spot on. Women are being misrepresented in our culture. However, tackling as something as large as porn magazines is an uphill battle and would be a struggle to completely ban them. The only fight that would win would be the misrepresention of women on the covers of these magazines so that people browsing in shops are not exposed to such images anymore.

The problem is that there are many celebrities in all our magazines and reality TV shows who glamorize exploiting themselves. Many female contestants from Channel 4's Big Brother went on to pose for Nuts and Zoo after their evictions, including Imogen, Saskia, Michelle, Aislenye, Chanelle amongst many others we've never heard of before. Katie Price, formally known as the model Jordan, is renowned for her modelling career, stripping off for various shoots with her large breasts out. Since moving away from her modelling career into writing, star of her own reality show and a mother of three children, she still exploits her body on red carpet events and stories of her personal life. People admire and look up to her for her manic and magazine-exploited life, spending thousands on clothes, plastic surgery and make-up to follow in her example!
These people give women a bad name by sexualizing themselves and becoming a sex object in these magazines. They suggest that there are women who will happily expose themselves to men, which will lead a select few to abuse this perception of women.


 Before I went to the Object talk, I came across twins who run PinkStinks, an organisation to help give young girls better role models rather than women as suggested about. They promote the idea that girls need to be more open minded and not brought up as princesses but as a young person with a choice to play with lego, cars or Barbie dolls. I was very interested in what Abi, co-founder, had to say as they wanted the young generations to realize their potential in life and avoid them being exposed to the sexualization of women that is occurring frequently in society.

A staggering 63% of girls would rather be glamour models than nurses, doctors or teachers, according to the survey by mobile entertainment providers www.thelab.tv. 
[Source: Menmedia, 2005] 

How disgusting is it that our next generation would rather be tanning themselves than helping others? Have we turned our youth into a sexualized self-absorbed society? The poll of 1000 girls, ages 15-19, saw more than half suggest Abi Titmus as a key role model. What has Abi Titmus done that we should be rejoicing over? Only 9% said J K Rowling, and only 4% for Germaine Greer.

Aside from their ongoing Porn Protest, Object recently protested outside Hugh Heffners new Playboy club in Mayfair, London.
I have always been against Playboy and what it stood for, and until Saturday I had not heard another soul so against the brand. The brand has sexualized women for decades, with a pink bunny as the logo which has become popular on merchandise for children on pencilcases, lunch boxes and duvet cover. My sister and best friend purchased their branded goods as teenagers at secondary school which always disgusted me, but was their choice. The way that Playboy represents itself and the women involved, glamorizes what they do- with a tv documentary that had women scattered throughout Hughs Playboy Mansion, suggesting a life of luxury, in a bikini. Who really lives in a mansion with a dozen other women lazing about in bikinis all day? Realistically, we all prefer a day in our pajamas and dressing gowns watching This Morning followed by an afternoon episode of Neighbours and Deal or No Deal.

Todays culture is warped. Women are under the impression they need to be glamorous and wear 'glamorous' clothing, which generally consists of next to nothing. What happened to admiring the sophisticated glamorous Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor rather than short-skirted Katie Price and 'stars' of The Only Way is Essex?? What happened to looking up to intellectual and life-changing females like Florence Nightingale, the Lady with the Hammer*, JK Rowling, Anne Frank and Joanna Lumley. These are women who made a difference through their passion and belief. What can we actually do to make young people realize that the glamorized culture of being a celebrity is actually a life far from glamorous and admirable.


*Florence Nightingale was given the title of The Lady with the Lamp by the media at the time. Soldiers she dealt with and helped nurse to health called her The Lady with the Hammer. This was due to a cupboard that was full of medical provisions that were kept aside only for Captains and other higher ranking soldiers. Upon a large intake of injured front line soldiers, Florence took a hammer to it so she could help heal the them.

LINKS 
Object - Campaigning against sexual objectification of women
Pink Stinks - Campaign for REAL role models